Yesterday, my grandparents came over to visit for the first time since we moved. They came for lunch, and I racked my brain for a couple of days about what I could make for them. Sometimes I find a lunch menu much more difficult than dinner; you want something substantial, but not too heavy. I gave chicken salad a brief thought, but it’s never my favorite meal, mostly because I hate the gloppy mayonnaise thing. Then I remembered that my mom had given me a large package of basil from her garden, and a light bulb went off. Pesto chicken salad!
I’ve made variations of this pasta pesto dish before, and it seemed like the perfect starting point for a pesto chicken salad. I took my favorite pesto, added frozen chopped spinach (which I had thawed), some mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Voila! If you use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, it’s an incredibly quick meal and very filling. I served the sandwiches on croissants, but you could use your favorite rolls or bread.
Everyone raved about the chicken salad, and my Chief Culinary Consultant already requested another batch for sandwiches this week. He also added that a couple of pieces of bacon would be a great addition. A man after my own heart; bacon does make everything better! This salad is going into my stash of killer lunch recipes; it’s definitely a keeper.
One year ago: Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Topping
Two years ago: Top 10 List: Favorite Main Dishes
Three years ago: Anise Cookies
Four years ago: Scallion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce and Snickerdoodles
Five years ago: Fresh Blueberry Pie and Plain Bagels
Pesto Chicken Salad
Yield: About 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
An easy chicken salad that is dressed in a pesto sauce; perfect for using up fresh basil!
2 pounds cooked chicken, diced small
1½ cups pesto (homemade or store-bought)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1¼ cups mayonnaise
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the chicken in a large bowl; set aside.
2. Place the pesto, spinach and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and puree until combined and smooth. Add the mayonnaise and puree again for about 5 to 10 seconds to combine.
3. Pour the pesto mixture over the chicken, add the salt and pepper, and stir to completely coat all of the chicken. Serve on your croissants or your favorite bread. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.